It’s serious but laughable

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 4, 2009

First, the good news. The problems at the McComb Sports Parkhave been resolved.

Thanks to Larry Huckaby’s Letter To the Editor appearing in lastFriday’s McComb Enterprise-Journal, the folks in charge ofthe new complex in south McComb have taken action. They now haveGatorade in bottles at the concession stand for the fans andplayers.

In a laughable but serious, nearly explosive situation, BabeRuth Baseball League fans were confronted by a park official and aMcComb Police Department officer May 26, during a league game.

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Huckaby witnessed the confrontation and expressed his feelingsin the letter. The E-J editor deleted some of the comments but hisletter still hit the nail on the head.

Admission is free to the league games but a sign at the entrancewarns people not to bring food or drinks into the facility.Certainly, the park wants to realize a profit at the concessionstand.

Huckaby, a Brookhaven resident who has a son in the league, saidhe understood that the security guard was trying to do his job butit was handled in the wrong way. When parents began voicing theirdispleasure, the park guard summoned the police.

They gave one angry mother a police complaint (telephone number)line.

For a time, the confiscation of drinks and food resembled a drugraid. “You’ve got to be kidding,” was the general response.

Obviously, players and coaches require an ample supply of coldwater and sports drinks in a cooler. A large ice chest is standardequipment for most summer league teams. It is kept in the corner ofa dugout and players freely partake of the liquids.

By contrast, fans could be stopped at the gate, and politelyasked to discard their drinks and food.

An elderly grandmother, estimated in her early 80s, was caughtsipping a Dr. Pepper, trying to quench her thirst in the lateafternoon heat. She was ordered to give up her canned drink.

“They took (potato) chips from kids and threw them in the trash.It was horrible,” said one witness.

There was a toddler with a ring pop. For the unknowing reader, aring pop is similar to a pacifier but it has a hard candy bulb onthe end.

They told the mother, her child couldn’t have it. Why? Becausethey didn’t sell them in the concession stand.

If you ever have tried to tell a mother that her child is doingwrong, it’s as dangerous as slapping a rattlesnake on the head orkicking a large bear in the belly. For sure, it created an angryresponse.

Besides, the child cried.

Fortunately, no infants were attending the game. Their formulaor baby food could have been confiscated.

Luckily, none of the fans were on oxygen. Otherwise, their tanksmight have been ripped away and trashed.

A pretty teenage girl confessed, “When I saw that policemancoming around, I put my Sugar Daddy (on a stick) in my purse sothey wouldn’t take it.”

The search and seizure agenda was crude at best. What caused amajor problem was the deputy who went in the dugouts and startedgoing through bat bags. Violators were not shot. There were novisible red swastika armbands.

“The plate umpire told (deputy) not to step in any of hisdugouts during the game. They interrupted the game five times,”said another witness

According to Lincoln County resident Celeste Case, theconcession stand didn’t sell bottled Gatorade or water. “Thebiggest catch-22 was that you couldn’t buy Gatorade in a bottle.They were selling it in a cup. Mostly, it was a cup full ofice.”

Tolerance and a sense of humor are most valuable in duress.

“The whole thing was kind of funny,” said Case, mother of aBasin Drilling player. “It was not funny if your were a parent or aplayer.”

Obviously, some pregame announcement over the loudspeakers wouldhave been appropriate.

“They should have made an announcement, a warning, before theytook action,” said Case. “Last year we could bring a coolerin.”

The Babe Ruth League official apologized for the harassment.Changes have been made. There’s a happy ending out there,somewhere.

Meanwhile, back in Lincoln County, local hospitality is at amuch higher level. Although the Lincoln County Dixie Youth BaseballLeague directors would prefer that fans purchase drinks and food attheir concession stands, they do allow outside sources ofnourishment and refreshment.

Lincoln County commissioner Weldon Smith said the leaguetolerates the consumption of non-concession stand food at KeystonePark and at Exchange Club Park. His main concern is that people puttheir food containers, empty drink cans/bottles and wrappers in theproper waste receptacles. In other words, please don’t litter thepremises.

“We’ve never had any problem with (food),” said Smith. “We evenhad one (parent) who had pizza delivered the other night.

“It’s rough when you have to pay somebody to clean up the mess,”said Smith. Several trash cans are located at the respectivefields.

The Brookhaven Department of Parks and Recreation also has a setof rules to follow regarding the consumption of outside food anddrinks at the Hansel King Sportsplex. However, the BRD has a hightolerance level.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com